A 52 year (1960-2011) numerical ocean model hindcast archive is evaluated. Overall, we find that the water masses that are directly influenced by Atlantic Water are realistically represented in the model, both in terms of advection/transport and hydrographic and dynamic variability. Inshore of the Norwegian Atlantic slope Current, the salt relaxation scheme applied negates variability in salinity within the Norwegian Coastal Current. This is most pronounced in the upper part of the water column. The modelled temperature variability in the near-shore waters is, however, in close agreement with observations. Within the two Norwegian Sea basins, the heat/freshwater content is unrealistically low/high, probably due to too little slope-basin eddy-fluxexchange between the slope current and the interior basins. In shelf areas (e.g. the Barents Sea and the North Sea), we find that the model to a large degree resembles the variability within the Atlantic-influenced water masses, while the salinity relaxation inhibits variability in the salinity within water masses dominated by coastal water.